Easy Potato Salad Recipe

This is an easy potato salad recipe – We love this stuff! Joanne and I would be happy to hover over a bowl of it any day. It has few extras thrown in, too. Jump to our Easy Potato Salad Recipe now or read on for more tips.

Homemade Mayonnaise RecipeYou May Also Like This: Make your potato salad extra special with Homemade Mayonnaise! See our Fail-Proof Mayonnaise Recipe made with whole egg, mustard, vinegar and oil.

You’ll notice that we’ve made lots of suggestions for substitutions and mentioned where things are optional (like eggs). We love everything listed, but potato salad is personal. Always add to your likings and taste.

Easy Potato Salad Recipe

How to Make the Best Potato Salad Recipe

Our recipe is pretty classic with just a few extras thrown in. Here are our best tips for making potato salad.

Best Potatoes for Potato Salad and How to Cook Them

We like the potatoes to hold a little shape in the salad and not fall apart. We go for small, waxy and thin-skinned potatoes. Small yellow, white or red potatoes are perfect. They will take between 12 and 20 minutes to cook. At 12 minutes we check for doneness — if a fork can pierce through easily, they are done.

We try not to use russet (baking) potatoes — they aren’t as waxy and seem to fall apart. We have used them on occasion (they still taste great). If that’s all you have, don’t worry. If using russet potatoes, dice them before cooking — they are usually much larger and would take a long time if cooked whole. Keep everything similarly sized then cook until a fork can easily pierce the potato.

For smaller potatoes (we prefer these), we cook them whole. Dicing them up will make things go faster, but when you cook the potatoes whole, they maintain more of their flavor and natural sweetness. We’re also partial to the texture of whole cooked potatoes. Speaking of cooking potatoes, there’s really no need to boil your potatoes. When you do they violently bash against each other. Instead, bring the water with potatoes to a boil then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. The potatoes cook just as quickly.

Simple Potato Salad Recipe

No matter what potato you choose to cook, don’t forget the salt. We cover the potatoes with 1 1/2 inches of water then generously salt the water. Two teaspoons of salt per quart of water should do it.

By salting the water, the flavor of the potatoes really comes out. They won’t taste salty, only like awesome potatoes.

Once your potatoes are done, drain them and stop the potatoes from cooking by adding them to an ice bath. After 2 to 3 minutes they will be cool enough to handle.

Simple Potato Salad Recipe

Now, you have two choices: skin- on or peel them. We peel them. Since cook them whole, it’s really easy to peel the potatoes — just pinch the skin and pull it away. (So much easier than peeling raw potatoes).

After that, cut into bite-size pieces and mix with dressing and other ingredients in our or your favorite recipe.

More Tips — Vinegar, Mustard, Pickles, Eggs and Herbs

Potato salad is a personal process and there are lots of opinions out there as to what makes it “perfect” or “the best.” The recipe below is our version — it includes everything we love. Here are a few things we love to add — remember that you can add none of it or more of it.

  • The Basics — The base to our recipe is pretty classic — a mixture of sour cream and mayonnaise. We add more sour cream than mayonnaise to lighten things up a bit — mayo can be heavy.
  • MustardWe love adding mustard. It jazzes everything up. We’re partial to American-style yellow mustard, but Dijon or whole grain mustard work well, too.
  • VinegarWe learned this tip from Alton Brown. After cooking and cutting, scatter a tablespoon or so of vinegar over the potatoes. The vinegar really makes the potatoes stand out. In our recipe we call for apple cider vinegar, but white wine vinegar, white vinegar or even some dill pickle juice work.
  • Pickles — Our house isn’t stable without dill pickles in the refrigerator so adding them is a no brainer for us. If you don’t like them leave them out or replace with sweet pickles.
  • Eggs — Maybe it’s how we were brought up or what we’re used to. To us, potato salad without eggs is missing something. Hard boiled eggs add texture and extra creaminess. If you aren’t a fan, leave them out.
  • Fresh Herbs — The most common herbs are parsley and chives, but dill, cilantro and tarragon all work well. In our recipe below, we use two both dill and parsley. Experiment for yourself to see what you love. Add a tablespoon at a time then taste. Also, remember dill and tarragon are a little stronger than other herbs so add accordingly.

Simple Potato Salad RecipeRecipe updated, originally posted May 2013. Since posting this in 2013, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear and added a quick recipe video. – Adam and Joanne

4.9 from 37 reviews
Easy Potato Salad Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Why we love this recipe. Joanne and I would be happy to hover over a bowl of this potato salad any day. It’s relatively classic with a few extras thrown in. You’ll notice that we’ve made lots of suggestions for substitutions and mentioned where things are optional (like eggs). Add to your likings and taste.

What you need to know. We choose small yellow, white or red potatoes and cook them whole. The potatoes maintain their natural moisture and sweetness this way. If you’re in a pinch, you can chop the potatoes, just remember they well take less time to cook. Adding fresh herbs are a nice touch - we like to use a combination of chopped parsley and dill. Parsley, dill, chives, tarragon and cilantro all work well. Add about 2 tablespoons of herbs at first then add more to taste. Dill and tarragon are strong, so you may not need the whole 1/4 cup.

Equipment you’ll need. A large pot, 2 medium bowls, 1 large bowl, measuring cups, spoons and a chef’s knife.
Created By:
Yield: 4 to 5 Servings
You Will Need
  • 2 pounds (907 grams) small yellow, red or white potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (substitute: white wine vinegar or white vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup (125 grams) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup (55 grams) mayonnaise, try homemade mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard (substitute Dijon or whole grain mustard)
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) finely chopped red onion (1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup finely (50 grams) chopped celery (3 ribs)
  • 1/3 cup finely (60 grams) chopped dill pickles
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped, optional
  • 1/4 cup (12 grams) chopped fresh herbs (see note above)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cook Potatoes
  1. Add potatoes to large pot then cover with 1 1/2 inches of water. Season with salt -- 1 teaspoon for every quart of water.
  2. Bring water to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. Cook 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork.
  3. While potatoes cook, set up an ice bath. Add cold water to a medium bowl then add ice. Drain potatoes then add to ice bath. Once cooled, peel potatoes by gently pinching the skin and pulling it away.
  4. Chop peeled potatoes into bite-size chunks then add to a large bowl. Scatter 1 tablespoon of vinegar over potatoes and lightly season with salt.Potato-Salad-Recipe-Step-1
Prepare Potato Salad
  1. While the potatoes cook, add onions to a small bowl then cover with warm water. Wait 10 minutes then rinse. (This tones down the onions a little).
  2. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise and mustard.Potato-Salad-Recipe-Step-2
  3. Add dressing, onion, celery, pickles, eggs and herbs to potatoes. Gently stir to combine. (Try not to mash the potatoes). Season with salt and pepper.Potato-Salad-Recipe-Step-3
  4. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve cold or bring to room temperature.
Notes and Tips
Make-Ahead Tip: If we have the time, we make this a day in advance. The flavors really meld together overnight.

Storing: Keep refrigerated salad up to 3 days.

Cooking Hard Boiled Eggs: For instructions on how to cook hard boiled eggs, visit our post How to Cook Hard Boiled Eggs.

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133 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Kate D. July 4, 2016, 2:44 pm

    This one tastes much better than the Potato salad from the deli. Mixing the mayo with the sour cream and yellow mustard to taste is the secret IMO; but I find the pickles too tart for my taste. I prefer pimento stuffed olives instead. I might try the Bermuda onions instead pf the scallions that I typically use. A small amount of sliced radish is also nice if you happen to have some on hand. The hardest part for me is getting the potatoes cooked to perfection. The thin skinned potatoes make this a lot easier.

  • Diana S June 20, 2016, 4:29 pm

    I will be heading out to a family gathering for the holiday and plan on making this. Sounds so good. Thank you,

  • Annie Frances June 20, 2016, 2:25 pm

    I appreciate that you said how potato salad is a personal process. I’m looking for Kosher dill pickles to put in my salad. Maybe I’ll add some mustard and fresh herbs as well. Thanks!

  • Debbie June 17, 2016, 8:37 pm

    Has anyone ever tried this with chopped green pepper and radish? I want to make this recipe, but I was wondering if these extra veggies would be good in it.

    • Joanne June 18, 2016, 1:13 pm

      Both would be great and would add a nice crunch to the salad.

  • Shauna Williams March 25, 2016, 8:21 pm

    Awesome!!! Awesome!!! Awesome!!! Has been my go-to recipe for potato salad for over a year now.

  • kelly February 2, 2016, 12:42 am

    Thanks for this recipe! Our family devoured it. I must say I was a little skeptical about the pickles, but it was amazing! I think the things that truly make it great are the use of vinegar, sour cream and mellowing out the onions… eggs are a must for us and we added a little extra. The only things I did to customize for us on day 2 were add a few finely sliced radishes for added crunch/color (family recipe), a pinch of cayenne for a bit more tang, and a dash of seasoning salt. What a great recipe!

  • Gail January 24, 2016, 11:51 pm

    Delicious potato salad, and it is in the fridge waiting to be eaten tomorrow on our Australia Day holiday. Had to taste, yum! Must say takes far longer to prepare all up than the 35 mins stated, but well worth it. Made as suggested, the mustard is a winner added to the dressing, thank you.

    • Alba Wendling April 7, 2016, 4:37 pm

      What is Australia Day? l make my potato salad the same way. I like to add sliced fresh radishes. Good recipe..keep up the good work.

  • Mary November 27, 2015, 2:00 pm

    Quick to put together and tastes just like I wanted it to. Thanx so much!

  • Jane Miller July 28, 2015, 2:22 pm

    Love the recipe. Great directions. Would so enjoy your weekly newsletter .thank you ,Jane. 80 yr old who loves to cook!y

  • Sharon Seiber June 18, 2015, 5:07 pm

    I usually use diced water chesnuts for the crunch. We love potato salad here, and would never make it without eggs!

  • Dale May 29, 2015, 7:53 pm

    I add celery seed to my potato salad, and while still warm I added cubed Colby jack cheese,1block

    • Kathy July 3, 2015, 11:56 am

      I also add celery an celery seed to my potato salad.. I also add a small amount of oil to my potatoes after I cut them up.. It coats the potatoes so the mayo doesn’t make it soggy..

  • Shari May 29, 2015, 6:36 pm

    I always loved my mom’s potato salad. I’ve tried to make it over the years and it’s been a hit and miss venture. I made this last year and really loved it but didn’t save the website. I found you again and have loaded the recipe into my iPad cookbook. I can’t wait to make it for Fourth of July!!!

  • geneva lane May 21, 2015, 2:50 pm

    I read most of the reviews and although I haven’t made this recipe I would like to tell you what makes mine so special…First instead of the vinigar I use Italian dressing…The difference in my salad is that I use lots of eggs that have been put in the processer..I actually use a dozen!.It is the magic ingredient if you like eggs!..I also top my salad with real bacon chips that I pre cooked and some of the eggs that have been put in the processor.I use about 4 pounds of potatoes..I am always asked to bring my potato salad to a potluck…

  • Mikayla April 18, 2015, 3:33 pm

    I know I can use vegan mayo, but what can be used in place of sour cream here for vegans?
    The recipe looks yummy, I’d love to try it out!

    • Joanne April 21, 2015, 1:01 pm

      You could try using more of a vinaigrette-style dressing than creamy/mayo based. I’ve seen people use a cashew dressings as well. Take a look at this one from Whole Foods.

  • Nancy McCall April 8, 2015, 8:54 pm

    We hae swedish deli in Houston, TX. They are very popular and expensive. They use yogurt and some mustard in their potato salad. It is the best I’ve ever tasted.

  • bbmomof3 March 22, 2015, 3:25 pm

    Thank you for the recipe and video. It’s my first time ever making potato salad. I’ve always wanted to make it but didn’t feel confident so your step by step video was very helpful. I’ll be serving it in a few hours at my son’s 21st., family, birthday party. Can’t wait to try it after it’s refrigerated but so far it’s tasting delicious 🙂

  • Lucy February 19, 2015, 4:00 am

    I absolutely LOVE this. Only takes a few minutes to do as well which is always a big tick in my book!

  • Carla February 8, 2015, 9:57 pm

    I Made this tonight. I had 3 lbs of potatoes that needed to go! Turned out AMAZING! I am pretty sure i will never want store bought potato salad again!

  • Stella Shelburn February 1, 2015, 7:48 am

    I like to add minced jalapeño for some spice and I thin down my mayo mixture with pickle juice. Otherwise this recepie is like mine..bacon bits don’t hurt a thing either.

  • Trixie December 30, 2014, 1:54 pm

    Just found your site and had an immediate desire for potato salad. Followed yours (for the first time I used to vinegar and you are right!), except instead of pickles, I added sliced green olives. Generations of my family have made wonderful potato salads and always the green olives were a constant.
    Thank you for you great ideas!

  • lizard December 25, 2014, 3:13 pm

    I had leftover potatoes in the fridge and made this recipe for a potluck. I substituted green onion for the red onion, and chopped parsley was my fresh herb.

    It was delicious! It really is just the right amount of dressing (and mayo/sour cream ratio) – not too creamy.

    My mom said it tasted very close to a salad that her Polish aunt used to make. I will definitely be making this again! Thank you.

  • Ceci October 23, 2014, 5:17 pm

    I love potato salad. I usually use russet because that’s what I usually have on hand. I leave out the celery and onion. I don’t use sour cream but sometimes use some ranch dressing. I also add garlic powder and onion powder. I like my salad a little sweet/sour. I use some sugar and sweet pickles with the juice. I also leave out the vinegar. Sometimes I’ll add diced chicken. I’ve never had it with bacon but that sounds like something I’d like to try.

    • Joanne October 24, 2014, 12:04 pm

      Ranch dressing is a great idea! Might need to try that soon.

  • Ronda October 19, 2014, 3:12 pm

    I made this potato salad it was the best salad I have ever tasted.What a nice recipe.I will be making it all the time.

  • Barbara October 15, 2014, 9:56 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your recipe. It brought back so many memories of summer BBQs with my family. My mother’s potato salad was wonderful. It’s a mustard salad with sweet pickles, eggs, mayo and onions. She also adds a bit of pickle juice to the mix. Yum! Nothing better. Loved reading all the other comments and different variations too. Store bought potato salad just doesn’t compare!

  • Apple October 10, 2014, 1:34 pm

    Thx Joanne!! This is a good recipe and very tasty. I had cook 4 times already. OMG! My husband loves this very much with fully surprised by putting parsley, dill n celery in it (grown up with classic plain potato salad). Great job n thx for sharing this. Totally love!! =)

  • Jane Greenfield September 27, 2014, 10:42 am

    I have been cooking for over 55yrs. Have had my own catering business. One thing however that I’ve never really felt comfortable with was getting the potato’s cooked just right, and you’ve managed to master the trick to perfection!
    I use red potatoes for Hot German potato salad and white or yellow for American.
    I decorate the top with quartered eggs, paprika, and finely chopped parsley(curly leafed). Thanks for all the tips, even us old timers can use hints and tips to improve favorite family recipes!
    Thanks again!
    Emily J

  • Joan September 12, 2014, 8:59 pm

    Made a double batch last weekend for potluck and lots of people commented how good it was! Making another batch this weekend at my husband’s request for another gathering. This is a keeper! Love the dill pickles, mustard and fresh herb additions. Lots of other recipes on your site I look forward to trying.

  • Daisy September 12, 2014, 4:25 pm

    Hi, I omitted the eggs, but added 1/4 cup crumbled feta.

  • Sarah September 8, 2014, 2:57 pm

    My mother-in-law makes great potato salad and all she could give me were the ingredients that she uses. I am so thankful that I came across this one because it is very similar to hers. I added the sour cream and cut out some mayo and added a touch of ranch dressing. It is great! Thank you for posting this, and thank you for the link to “how to hard boil eggs”- I am a beginner in the kitchen and I love how easy this recipe was to follow!

  • Lydia Courtney September 1, 2014, 4:32 pm

    Instead of boiling your potatoes for potato salad, bake them and cool them in the freezer. Then dice them and make your dish.

  • Gwen September 1, 2014, 11:58 am

    Great recipe! I’ve made it twice, not exactly as the recipe is written, but adjusted for my/family tastes. It is so easy to just tweak it here or there to make it your own. I sub greek yogurt for the sour cream and I love Celery Seed, so I add that too. I appreciate all the extra indepth tips. Cuts down on the trial and error of making something.

  • Liz August 13, 2014, 4:26 pm

    Fantastic addition…try adding a package of imitation crab meat, You can leave it in big chunks or cut the chunks in half. It’s incredible!

    • Terri August 9, 2015, 8:09 am

      I do not see this ingredient anywhere above, but I put radishes in my potato salad, always have. I think it is the color and that little extra taste that makes it my own. Try it, you’ll like it.

  • barbara August 10, 2014, 9:22 pm

    Made this again for a different group of folks and they loved it wanted my recipe! I did leave the eggs out and pickles just added pickle juice. I just love tip on putting the onions in hot water for 10 mins. I followed everything else to the T. I have been checking your website and can’t wait to make some other recipes. The pork tenderloin with apples and the lemon bars look like something I can handle.

  • BARBARA LANGLEY August 10, 2014, 10:21 am

    This is a keeper. I added pickle juice instead of pickles and left out the eggs… I did not know if everyone liked pickles or could be allergic to eggs that I was serving this too. If it was just my family I would add everything.

  • Estuardo. August 10, 2014, 1:23 am

    Good Evening Mr. and Mrs. Gallagher.

    I thought it was meritory to leave a comment about my experience with your lovely and delicious Potato Salad.

    I live alone. Well, my family consists of my two retrievers, and me.

    Today i had a craving for Potato Salad.

    I remembered how we loved to eat it with my father.

    He used to bring bowls of it. Bought them from a gourmet place a few blocks from our house.
    Or from another small family owned take-out place near some corporate buildings in the economic center of my town.

    It was another time . Several decades ago.

    Riding a car with him to that place, when I was a kid, is a cherised memory of mine.
    There was, you see, a lot of less traffic where I live.

    It meant sight seeing and cruising in my dad’s golden chevy nova ’78. And before that, in his Chevrolet Impala ’62.

    We would get a big roasted chicken, two bowls of this dish, and fruit coctail or some conserved apricots, and head back home.

    The meal would take several enjoyable hours.

    My father would stain his white shirt in the single place every-single-time.

    He passed away 8 years ago.

    Im not a very good cook like him.

    He was able to cook a roast beef so deliciously, I havent even tried it since the last time I ate it with him. Maybe 15-18 years ago.

    I am a writer, you see. I was supposed to write today. I had monastic silence like I need to finish my book. ( If i work in my office, there is terrible noise and Im not able to concentrate ).

    But today, I just had that same craving from when I was a kid.

    Both places we used to buy this are closed now. No one remembers them or new them, I guess.

    Empty dark streets now.

    So, I started searching for a way to cook this delicious dish for the first time in my life. In between providing maintenance to my very old PC, and house keeping, I went to buy the ingredients I was able to get.

    You were right. Large potatoes take a really long time to cook.

    I dont like mustard so much these days so I used melted butter instead, in the same quantity, If that is ok. (which I love).

    I watched the entire movie “The Book of Ely” that was on TV while I was peeling the potatoes.
    I found it extremely hard. But then again, be patient with me. At least I had a movie to keep myself entertained.

    I followed your instructions to the letter of the word. I really did.

    I did not have enough salt so I just went to buy some around the corner of the house, about an hour ago. It was after 10 pm at night, it was cold and it was raining.

    I am Asthmatic. ( I don’t like to say I suffer from Asthma, but I do have it chronicly). I was coughing hard throughout the trip (and there were very “courious” characters that seem to only come out at night ) but I made it back ok.

    It took me seven careful hours to cook this recipe.

    Im sorry. I am all alone, and I did the best that I could.

    But I did it !

    And it is sublime. Delicious. 😀

    I even procured myself some chicken to enjoy with it. (Already cooked, thank God). 😀

    I loved your video. I loved your smiles in the picture. You seem to be nice wholesome folks.

    Congratulations on your website.

    I leave you now, as I am going to go to eat. (I wrote this while awaiting the 30 minute period on the fridge as instructed. :D)

    Thank you very much.


  • Mike July 16, 2014, 5:05 pm

    Thanks for posting this! I’ve been looking for a not so mayo and bacony recipe. Just finished it up and stuck it in the fridge…….. waiting till tomorrow.

  • Jamie July 3, 2014, 3:37 pm

    Joanne, I can tell you are a very nice woman 🙂 I am confused why this review is here… waste of time reading it. I’m sure its a very good salad, I guess? Weird.

    • Joanne August 7, 2014, 1:28 pm

      Hi Jamie, Thanks for the comment 🙂 I did actually just delete that comment, you are right, it was unnecessary.

  • Wickie June 21, 2014, 8:53 pm

    Reviews are great, I am going to try it. I am old, back in my young years every time you eagerly asked for a recipe it was eagerly given, generally omitting an ingredient or two. I agree, pickles are out, some may like them and some don’t. thank you

  • Dianne June 21, 2014, 4:28 am

    Over the years I have tried many potato salad recipes – none really met my taste test: rich, kinda creamy, nice bite of bread/butter pickle juice and potatoes evenly cooked. I’m 71 years a seasoned senior citizen and this is the recipe I have been searching for. I’m letting the eggs cool down and in approximately 5 minutes will add them to that wonderful potato salad. Thank you so much. I will get back to you with my comments. Thanks again.

  • Jen June 20, 2014, 11:16 pm

    Hi! I’d like to try this recipe but I’m wondering if it’s okay to add chicken? 🙂 Thanks!

    • Joanne August 8, 2014, 11:40 am

      Sure! Cooked chicken would be great.

  • Terry June 20, 2014, 2:31 pm

    I always put cilantro and chopped black olives in my potato salad, of course eggs and pickles are a must too!!!

  • julie June 20, 2014, 8:26 am

    How long will it last ,do you have to eat it all on the day ?

    • Joanne June 20, 2014, 11:54 am

      Hi Julie, Potato salad (when refrigerated) will last more than a day. In fact, we think it tastes even better the second day. Keep in mind, though that potato salad should really be refrigerated once it is made. If you’ve left it out at room temperature for more than a few hours you probably don’t want to save it.

  • Rachael Irwin June 19, 2014, 3:20 pm

    Thanks so much for your thorough, extremely helpful suggestions on how to make a proper potato salad. I greatly appreciate your method, and the recipe’s proportions were perfect! This will be my go-to potato salad recipe forevermore!

    • Joanne June 20, 2014, 11:56 am

      Hi Rachael, You are very welcome! So glad we could help.

  • Christine June 16, 2014, 3:11 pm

    For extras I add whole kernel corn or carrot. I boil the carrot whole along with the potatoes then peel and cut into little cubes.


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